I had already wrapped up 2016 mentally. I, like everyone else, was going about my business celebrating the holidays (by that I mean working) and enjoying opening presents and snow and so on. I was driving into work on Christmas morning, December 25, just after midnight. It was the first huge snowstorm of the season and our plant road was covered in ice and snow.
I was almost to work and my 60 mile drive was behind me--I was relieved, and relaxed knowing that I would soon be on duty and able to relieve my coworker. But I got hailed before I made it; one of our coworkers had an accident. I was the first EMT to respond, and our ambulance and other EMTs arrived afterward.
My coworker did not survive the accident. I was affected deeply, as were the other people on scene. I don't remember much of the following week. His family and loved ones were heavily on my mind, and Christmas isn't easy to begin with (probably for anyone?)
I have seen death before, but this incident really left me feeling deflated and helpless. I became an EMT to help people. As others have said after this, not every situation is a win. And even though I was originally the only EMT there, the man had his friends and coworkers nearby, talking to him and encouraging him, as I did, that he wasn't alone. When the other EMTs showed up, we were a seamless team that transitioned into first a two man, then three, then four man team to do our job.
It's true, sometimes you just can't win. It's horrible, and I keep thinking of Gandalf's words: "Death is just another path, one that we all must take." As someone who actively chose to help people in emergency situations, it shouldn't be surprising (and wasn't, to anyone) that I was and am, very sad for this loss of life.
There were probably a lot of reasons I was more affected than normal, but after a very heavy Christmas and New Year's Day, I felt that sensation that anyone familiar with death feels. Life is so fragile. It's never guaranteed. It's so precious. We are all finite. And for the first time since I became an EMT I questioned my decision. I will continue to do my job, but I definitely have a hole in my heart. And I will take that, and my reminder to treat life as the ephemeral, strange thing it is, more reverently this year.